COMMONS

Publication of Fifth Special Report

25 January 2013

The Business, Innovation and Skills Committee today publishes the Government response to the Committee’s Fifth Report of Session 2012–13, Apprenticeships.

Chair's comments

Commenting on the Government’s response, the Chair of the Business, Innovation and Skills Committee, Adrian Bailey MP, said:

"Apprenticeships can play a pivotal role in creating the skilled workforce necessary for economic growth. I welcome the Government’s agreement with this main thrust of our report.

Above all, I am pleased that the Government agrees that quality is the key for the apprenticeship programme going forward.

In a number of areas the Government has acknowledged the need to review and refresh its strategy and priorities. Reviews may be welcome, action is needed.

Apprenticeships are a viable and attractive path to a successful career and this should be reflected in the culture of our schools. I am therefore deeply disappointed that the Government has declined to require schools to publish ‘apprenticeship entries’ as well as the number of university places their students achieve, and call on it to reconsider the Committee’s recommendation.

The Government has also failed to take up our recommendation that a formal structure be set up to attach apprenticeships to public procurement contracts. We understand the need to be flexible, however, we fail to believe that a structure cannot be found that retains flexibility, whilst also encouraging apprenticeships. The Government has promised to investigate best practice in local government contracts and we will watch this space closely.

During our inquiry, we were shocked to hear evidence of the Government wasting money on training schemes that it could not ensure provided value for money. In these straitened times, this is simply unacceptable. We are therefore dismayed that the Government has declined to act on our recommendation that firms be required to quantify the value of their ‘in-kind’ payments.

We are pleased, however, that the Government has promised to consider whether it should use quality indicators when allocating money in the future. We recommended that they do so and repeat that recommendation now.

High quality apprenticeships can provide the cornerstone of a thriving economy. We are pleased that the Government has recognised this in its response to our report. We encourage it to now take the necessary action to turn recognition into reality."

Image: iStockphoto

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